Home Repair Tips – Fluorescent Light

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair    by: ITC

Fluorescent lights use less electricity and give off less heat than regular lights. They also last much longer and provide more light. Fluorescent light fixtures now being used include two basic types:

• Starter-type fluorescent tube The starter-type fluorescent fixture has a fixture ballast, starter, and the tube itself. Rapid- start fluorescent fixtures do not have a starter.

If a fluorescent light goes out, check the house fuse or circuit breaker first. If a light blinks on and off, tube and check that the pins on the ends are straight and clean. Straighten the pins with needle-nose pliers. Clean the pins with sandpaper and brush them clean.

In a starter-type system, it is most economical to replace the starter first. Some starters have a button to reset them manually. However, the most common type must be replaced. Turn off the electricity and remove the fluorescent tube. Turn the starter counterclockwise to remove it. Be sure the replacement starter has the same watts rating as the Old one. Most new model fixtures do not use starters anymore.

If replacing the starter doesn’t work, try a new tube. Sometimes the light from a new tube swirls and flickers. This is normal and will stop in a few hours.

Finally, if the light still does not work, replace the ballast—the most expensive part. Insulation tar leaking along the ballast indicates a faulty ballast. Be sure the ballast has the same rating as the old one. Replace the ballast carefully, one connection at a time. You may decide to replace the entire fixture for a little more than the cost of the ballast.

Noisy fixtures may have loose connections. A special low-noise ballast is also available to make the fixture quieter. Discoloration at the ends of the tubes is normal. If the ends of an old tube are very dark, the tube is worn out. A new tube that turns black indicates a bad starter.

Most fluorescent lights won’t work at temperatures below 50°F. If you need one for a cold area, such as a garage, you can buy a special cold-temperature fixture.

Screw-in types of fluorescent fixtures are also available. The entire fixture is screwed into a regular threaded light socket.

Home Repair Tips – Doorbells

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair    by: ITC

The doorbell system has four working parts:

• Push button


Electromagnet and striker

• Bell or chime

A doorbell push button is simply a switch with a spring inside. Pressing down on the button completes the circuit. When you release the button, the spring pushes the contacts open and cuts off electrical flow.

A transformer is a device that changes voltage. There are two basic types of transformers:

• A step-up transformer, which increases voltage

• A step-down transformer, which cuts down voltage

A doorbell transformer is the step-down type. It takes 110-volt current and reduces it to a low voltage of 8 to 20 volts. This low voltage output operates the doorbell. Eight to 20 volts is relatively safe. The high voltage wired into the other side of the trails- former is dangerous.

When you push the doorbell button, electricity flows through an electromagnet which attracts a striker. As the striker moves, it hits the bell or chime.

If the doorbell is not working, first inspect the wiring. Splice any broken wire or replace it with No. 18 bell wire.

Probably the most common problem with doorbells is the push button because it must stand up under constant use and weather conditions. To check it, remove the mounting screws and inspect the back. Clamp a piece of wire with alligator clips across the contacts. If you don’t have alligator clips, hold a piece of wire by the insulation and touch the bare ends of the wire to the contacts. If the doorbell rings, the push button is faulty. First try cleaning the contacts with steel wool or fine sandpaper. If that doesn’t work, replace the push button.

When you bypass the switch and the doorbell still does not ring, the problem is somewhere else in the circuit. Next test the transformer at the low voltage side. This is the side connected to the wires that run to the push button and the bell. Test it with a low voltage circuit tester. A 110-volt tester will not work. If the circuit tester lights, the transformer is working and the problem is with the doorbell or chime itself. If the tester does not light the transformer is bad and must be replaced with one of the same voltage. Turn off the electricity. Loosen and remove the locknut behind the transformer. Replace the trans voltage. Remove the wires and attach the new transformer in the same way the old one was attached.

If the doorbell or chime itself is the problem, you may be able to fix it. Check the wires connected to the bell or chime unit to make sure they haven’t come loose. You may have to bend the striker slightly so that it will make contact with the bell. If the chime unit has a plunger, cleaning the plunger may help it move more freely. Do not oil the plunger because oil will attract dust, and before long the plunger will be sticking again. Lubricate with silicone spray or graphite. If you cannot repair the chime or bell, it is easy and economical to replace it.

There is a locknut at the back of the transformer. After you have turned off the electricity, loosen the locknut by tapping with a hammer and screwdriver. Then unthread the locknut by hand. Be sure the replacement transformer has the same voltage.

Doorbells and chimes have the same basic working parts. A bell, though, also has a set of contact points that are pulled apart each time the electromagnet draws the striker. This opens the circuit. A spring pulls the contacts together again and the cycle repeats as long as the pushbutton is held. This is why doorbells keep ringing and chimes only sound once.

The input side of a transformer is connected to the 110-volt house current. The two contacts on the output side give 8 to 20 volts to operate the doorbell.

The doorbell push button is a spring switch kept in the open position. Pushing down on the button completes the circuit and sounds the bell or chime. Doorbell push buttons are for low voltage. Do not use a doorbell push button in a high voltage circuit. Ithom can arc and start a fire.

Home Repair Tips – Wire Splices

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Most home wiring can be joined with splices. A splice is made by twisting two or more pieces of wire together. All wire splices must be made in an electrical box. The three splices most often used in home repair are:

• Pigtail splice

• Tap splice

• Western Union splice

The pigtail splice is a quick and easy way to connect two wires. Twist the ends of the wires together. Then tape the end or attach a solderless connector. The pigtail splice is weak. Use it only where the wires will not be pulled.

The tap splice joins a cut wire to a continuous wire. Remove about an inch of insulation from a midpoint in the continuous wire. Then wind the tap (cut) wire around the exposed portion of the continuous wire. Insulate the splice with tape.

The Western Union splice is the strongest splice. It conducts electricity well and withstands strain. The secret is to wrap the end of each wire around the body of the other wire. Use tape to insulate it.

A fire from bad wiring usually starts at a splice or outlet connection. When splicing wires, scrape the wires clean and twist them snugly. If you don’t, the splice will get hot. Soon it may arc and you will have a bigger problem to solve than bad wiring—a major fire in your home.

Other methods of joining wires are:

• Mechanical connectors such as electrical clamps

• Soldering

These methods are not used in most home repairs. However, soldering strengthens the joint and helps prevent corrosion.

Be careful when removing insulation. Cut at a 30° angle so you do not nick or cut the wire. A damaged wire will not conduct electricity well and may break.

In a tap splice the free end of one wire may be connected to the middle of another wire.

The Western Union splice is the strongest. It is used where the connection may be pulled. First twist the wires for 1 to-2 inches at the center. Then tightly wrap one end five or six times around the other wire. Do the same with the other end.

Tape a Western Union splice in this way. Keep the tape tight as you wind it around the wire.

Home Repair Tips – Outlets and Switches

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Two electrical devices in the home are in constant use. They are:

• Outlet receptacles

• Switches

Roth of these devices are housed in electrical boxes made of etal or plastic. In the box, the outlet r switch is attached to wires that carry the house current.

An outlet receptacle includes one or more electrical sockets connected to the wires inside the box. A two-prong plug inserted into the outlet connects to two hot wires. This permits electricity to flow through the amp or appliance.

If a receptacle breaks or wears out, it must be replaced. Test the outlet a circuit tester. If it does not light, replace the outlet.

First turn off the electricity by removing the fuse or turning off the circuit breaker. In some cases you may want to turn off all the electricity at the main switch.

Remove the outlet from the box. Many outlets are connected by two wires. Others, the grounded type, have three wires.

The electrical box often contains an outlet receptacle. Lamps and appliances can be plugged into these outlet receptacles.

A broken or worn out outlet receptacle cannot be repaired. Test for electricity by inserting the two prongs of a circuit tester into the two slots of the outlet. If it lights there is electrical flow. If not, replace the outlet.

Remove the face plate and unscrew the outlet from the box. You can sketch a rough draft of how each wire is connected to the outlet. Label each wire with a letter or number on masking tape before you disconnect the wires. Be sure to mark the letter or number on your rough draft. Sometimes receptacles seem to have more wires than they need. This is because the receptacle itself makes the connection and continues the circuit to the next outlet somewhere else in the house.

Attach the new outlet according to your rough draft. Be sure all wires are bent properly and screwed down tight. Loose wires cause sparks, and sparks can cause fires.

The outlet receptacle has slotted holes at the top and bottom.

This is so you can hang the outlet straight even if the box is crooked. When you replace the face plate, no one can see that the box is not straight.

There are many types of switches, but all of them work by opening or closing a circuit. Electricity will not flow through an open circuit. Switches in outlet housings usually control lights, air conditioners, and other built-in house appliances through in-wall wiring. Sometimes the switch will control outlet receptacles elsewhere in the room or in the same housing

Sometimes outlets are wired to one another. Instead of continuing straight through, e line stops at one set of screws on the outlet.Both screws on the same side of the outlet are onnected so that the next set of wires carries electricity just as if A was connected

The simplest switch is a single pole single throw switch. This switch is marked ON and OFF. In the ON or up position, the circuit is closed and electricity flows through the switch. In the OFF or down position, the circuit is opened, stopping the flow of electricity.

•Do not install a switch upside down.

Two three-way switches are used to control a circuit from two different locations. They are used in hallways and stairways, for example. Three-way switches are not marked ON/OFF.

Other special switches are used for safety. Dimmer switches can be used to brighten or dim the lights by turning a knob. Mercury switches, which don’t spark, are used where inflammable or explosive materials might be present. They will not work if mounted upside down. Outdoor switches and outlets should be grounded and sealed against moisture

Replace a switch the same as you do an outlet. Turn off the electricity by removing the fuse or opening the breaker. Remove the cover plate. The switch cover plate is attached by two screws instead of one. Rough draft the connections and tag the wires. Install the new switch and replace the cover plate.

Home Repair Tips – Appliance Wire

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair    by: ITC

Appliance wire is a good conductor, but it pulls apart easily. The wires inside most electrical cords are in strands. They are not solid like permanent wiring in the walls. The insulation around the wires is strong and helps hold the strands together. The wire usually breaks before the insulation does and you will not be able to see where it is broken. When the wire breaks, the lamp may go out entirely. If you move the cord or hold it a certain way, the lamp may go on again.

To check a lamp cord, plug it in and use a circuit tester to test the ends of the wire closest to the lamp. If the tester lights, the circuit is complete and there is nothing wrong with the cord. Most likely, the lamp socket is defective. If the circuit tester does not light up, flex the cord and see if this makes the circuit tester flicker. Be very careful while the cord is plugged in.

If the cord is bad, remove it. A replacement cord has a molded plug at one end and bare wires at the other. Be sure to replace the cord with one exactly the same. Heating devices especially require a special type of cord. Attach the new cord exactly as the old cord was attached.

If the cord is good, but the lamp still doesn’t light, the problem is usually the lamp socket, which contains the switch. The lamp socket has four basic parts:

• Cap

• Socket

• Cardboard liner

• Outer shell

When you buy a new socket, be sure to get the same kind. Although they may look alike, sockets come in different sizes and types.

Before working on the lamp socket, unplug the lamp and remove the bulb. On the outer shell there is a spot marked PRESS. By pressing and wiggling it, you can remove the outer shell and the cardboard liner. Unless the cap is damaged it probably does not need to be replaced. In the cap, the wires are tied in an underwriters knot. Examine the wires. If the insulation is brittle, cut back the wires or replace them. Tie an underwriters knot. Then attach the ends of the wires to the new socket just as they were on the old socket. Set the socket back in the cap. Replace the cardboard liner. Plug in the lamp and test it.

So they will be flexible, most lamp d appliance cords are made of hair-like strands metal in an insulated shell.

A wire may break or burn through _nder the insulation. Broken wire can cause sparking that will burn the insulation.

Repairing Home Appliances

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair    by: ITC

When appliances don’t work properly, the plug is often the problem. Prongs may be broken or bent. Wires may be burnt where they attach to the prongs. The plug itself may be split or cracked.

There are two basic types of plugs:

• Clamp-on plugs

• Wired plugs

Clamp-on plugs are easiest to replace. They have no screws and require no stripping. Cut damaged plug, and separate the wires for about 1/4 inch. Open the clamp or lever on the new plug and simply insert the wire ends into the plug. Close the clamp or lever, and the plug is ready for use. Clamp-on plugs should be used only for light-duty use, such as lamp cords.

To repair a wired plug take out the cardboard or plastic cover and loosen the screws. Pull the wires farther through the plug and cut off the bad ends. Separate the two wires for about 1-1/2 inches and strip 1/2 inch of insulation off the ends. Twist the copper strands so they will not separate easily. To relieve the stress on the plug and on the copper wire, tie an “underwriters knot”.

Pull the knot back into the plug cap and wrap the bare wire ends around the screws in the direction the screw tightens. Tighten the screws and replace the cover.

If your plug has three prongs repair it the same as a two-prong plug. Make an underwriters knot with the black and white wires. Attach the third green wire to the green screw. Attach the white wire to the silver screw and black wire to the brass screw. Be sure none of the bare wires are touching each other. Replace the protective cover.

Some plugs are completely cased in rubber. If one of these plugs goes bad, unplug the appliance and cut off the bad plug.

Broken electrical plugs are often because of appliance failure. Plugs are frequently stepped on or kicked accidentally. Common damage includes bent and broken or burnt wires, and damaged plug casings.

With a two prong plug, separate the wires for about an inch and a half and strip off the insulation for about 1/2 inch. Scrape the wire until it shines and twist the copper ends so they hold together.

Tie an underwriters knot in this way. This knot puts the pull on the insulation instead of the wire. If this knot is not used, the wire may come loose in a short time, especially if the plug is removed by pulling on the cord.

After the knot is pulled into the plug cap, the stripped wire is wound around the screws in the direction that the screw will be turned to tighten. This pulls the wire in under the screw. If the wire is looped in the opposite direction it will be pushed away as the screw is tightened.

Home Repair Tips – Electricity

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair    by: ITC

In this age of electricity, modern homes have more and more electricity built into them. In home maintenance and repair, knowledge about electricity is a must. It is important to know which electrical jobs you can handle and when to call an electrician.

People who work with electricity are called electricians. As specialists, they put wires in houses, install fuse boxes or panels, repair large electrical appliances, work on doorbells, and generally handle all common electrical equipment problems.

The most common house current is ‘110 volt, 60 hertz per second alternating current (called AC). AC is a type of electricity that “alternates.” This means that it changes its direction of flow as it passes through a wire. Sixty hertz AC is electricity that changes its direction of flow 60 times each second.

Another current, 220 volt AC is also available for use in most homes. It is very dangerous to work with, and a qualified electrician should be called in if you suspect trouble in a 220 volt circuit.

Electricity may be dangerous, but it is not difficult to work with if you follow certain basic rules. The following units include the basic safety rules for working with electricity and explain simple electrical repairs you can make around the house.

When speaking of electricity, the word hot means charged with electricity. Hot also means dangerous. To avoid danger when working with electricity, follow these rules:

• Assume that all electrical wires and parts are hot

• Always check to make sure that the electricity is turned off before starting or continuing any electrical work

• Never turn on the electricity for someone else unless asked to do so

• Always check for electricity with a circuit tester

• Never work with wires or electrical equipment in wet or damp places Electricity is invisible. You can’t tell

if a wire is hot by looking at it. Things that electricity can run through are called conductors. Things that electricity cannot run through are called insulators. Electricity runs well through most metals and through water. So wires and electrical parts are made of metal. Because the human body is mostly water, it also makes a good conductor of electricity. Always be careful around electricity!

When you are working with appliances, you can turn off the electricity by pulling the plug. Most shop work is done this way. But when you are working on wiring in a house you must turn off the electricity in a different way.

All house wiring runs to a fuse box or breaker box. A fuse or breaker in this box completes each circuit. Too much electricity flowing through a wire could make it hot enough to melt and cause a fire. To prevent this, the fuse will melt or the circuit breaker will open automatically when the wires get too hot. This opens the circuit and stops the flow of electricity. The electricity can also be stopped by removing the fuse or opening the circuit breaker by hand.

The circuit breaker box and the fuse box have a main switch. This switch turns on or off all the electricity in the house. When electricians are working they will padlock the main switch in the off position and tag it.

A careful electrician tests bare wires with a circuit tester. A circuit tester is made of two wire probes and a small bulb which glows if electricity is flowing through the wire being checked.

Fuses are designed to melt and break the circuit when the flow of electricity becomes too great. Removing the fuse will also break the circuit.

The main switch on a fuse or circuit breaker box controls all the electricity in the house.

Blown fuses must be replaced. Blown circuit breakers, however, may be reset by hand.

On fuse boxes the switch may be locked open to insure that the electricity remains off. On circuit breaker boxes, the main switch is thrown and the cover is then locked.

Most circuit testers are made of two wires or probes and a neon bulb. The two probes are touched to the wires. If the bulb glows, the wires are hot (electricity is flowing). Circuit testers have different voltage ratings so be sure you are using the correct type.

How to Build Your Own Wind Turbine

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Electrical    by: ITC

Wind turbines can be built at home using different ways. However, all of them require the following major parts:

  1. A tower
  2. Blades
  3. An electronic control system
  4. Batteries
  5. A generator
  6. A mounting

The simplest way to start building your wind turbine is utilizing permanent magnet DC motors as power generators. Avoid going for those computer tape drive motors. The best option is the 99 volt DC motor made by Ametek. However, if you don’t get an access to it, you can go for other Ametek models which also make good generators.

Once done with fixing a decent generator, your next task is finding a hub and blades to connect to it. You can create your own blades by slicing them out of wood. However, this requires tremendous amount of effort. A more promising option is carving blades out of a PVC pipe and forming them into airfoils.

A six inch pipe that is 24 inches long is appropriate for the task. Cut the pipe lengthwise around the circumference in 4 equal pieces. Use a palm sander or a belt sander on the cut edges of the blades to give them some extra smoothing.

For the hub, select a toothed pulley that is more likely to fit easily in the motor shaft. If the pulley turns out to be smaller to bolt the blades in perfectly, you can have it fixed along with some aluminum disk after cutting it into the required size, to make a proper drilled, tapped, and bolted hub. After drilling and mounting holes in the blades, you can have them attached to your hub.

The same shop from where you purchased the PVC pipe can also provide you with vent caps that are dome shaped. These can act as the spinner to your hub. However, this is a crucial step, since some spinners are likely to spoil the effectiveness of blades.

For the mounting, connect the motor to a preferable sized piece of wood. To protect it from tough weather, make a covering out of a piece of the PVC pipe. Use a heavy aluminum piece for the tail. For free turning of the head in the wind, use 1 1/3 inch conduit for the tower and fittings of 1 inch pipe at both ends. Then, attach a 1 inch iron flange to the generator end and rivet a 10 inch iron pipe to fix into it. Pass wires from the generator through the center of the conduit unit to the tower base.

Make a U-shaped cut from a 1 inch pipe for your tower base. In its middle, assemble a Tee that is 1 ¼ inch long. Add a close nipple of 12 inch. Also add a 1 inch Tee from this nipple to the reducer.

Once you have sorted out the mechanical parts, you require fixing the electronic part of your project. This would include a couple of batteries to store the energy generated by the turbine, a secondary load where energy from turbine can be stored while batteries are full, a controller charge for running everything, and a diode that can prevent wastage of batteries while spinning the generator.